The Electoral Implications of Social and Economic Change since 1994

  • Jeremy Seekings


Voting behavior in most countries is shaped by voters’ social and economic positions. Social and economic changes therefore often have profound electoral implications, eroding support for some parties while improving opportunities for others. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South African society has changed dramatically, with the rapid growth of the black middle classes at the same time as rising unemployment and declining life expectancy due to AIDS. Inequality has continued to shift from race to class, with growing intraracial inequalities. Yet these social and economic changes have not recast the country’s political cleavages. Racial identities have proved resilient and political loyalties seem deep rooted. The major political parties have proved more adept at forging racially based, cross-class than cross-racial coalitions. There are signs of the growing salience of class, but not in the electoral arena.


Racial Identity Formal Employment Opposition Parti Socioeconomic Change African National Congress 
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© Jessica Piombo and Lia Nijzink 2005

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  • Jeremy Seekings

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